Pigeon fancier gets police caution for killing sparrowhawks

An un-named pigeon fancier in Bedfordshire has received a police caution after admitting to shooting (and killing) sparrowhawks.

The joint investigation by Bedfordshire Police and the RSPB took place between February – May this year and culminated in the discovery of three dead sparrowhawks. An air weapon was seized during the investigation.

Police Inspector Tracey Day, Bedfordshire Police’s wildlife crime officer said: “Wildlife crime in Bedfordshire is taken seriously and the force will continue to ensure that a positive approach is taken to all matters reported that involve crime against wildlife“.

So, why wasn’t this man named and why did he only receive a police caution for offences that can attract fines of up to £5,000 and/or a six month prison term?

Bedfordshire on Sunday article here

Thank you to the contributor who sent us this link.

17 thoughts on “Pigeon fancier gets police caution for killing sparrowhawks”

  1. Once again … The Law is an ASS!

    So it’s a caution for Killing THREE Sparrowhawks!
    So how many do you have to kill, to receive any punishment?

    Dirty Bastards like this bloke, will never, ever even think of stopping their evil killing of our Birds of Prey, until they are properly punished!
    Sadly, most people who kill Birds of Prey are never ever caught!
    I feel very sorry too, for the poor folk who go to all the bother of catching these SCUMBAGS, only to see them waltz off home with just a telling off!

    I wonder if I’d just get a telling off, if I went round to his shed & shot a few of his Pigeons?

    Incidentally, I stopped my car next to a forest this very afternoon & stepped out, to the cries of young Sparrowhawks not far from me. As I listened to their calls, the little cock bird suddenly appeared & glided silently straight over me & on down along the side of the wood, losing height all the way, before sliding around the edge of the wood, just a couple of feet from the ground, off on another hunt. One of those magical sights in Birdwatching.

  2. Once again no adequate sentence dispite killing 3 of our birds of prey. I am a little surprised as a Pigeon keeper doesen’t have the same friends in high places that a shooting estate does!

    For the record I keep Pigeons myself and do lose a couple on average a year to our local Sparrowhawk, but I could breed far more than are ever taken, and would never EVER consider killing any bird of prey or any wild animal. My birds are safe in their loft, but when they are out they have to take their chances the same as any other living creature.

    One time a Pigeon was sitting on the wall, a Sparrowhawk swooped down to take it, the pigeon dived under its loft followed by the hawk which in turn was followed by my cat! All three survived in this instance.

  3. I do hope his wrist isn’t hurting too much! BUT – What a nice surprise to hear from a sane pigeon fancier. Good one Chris. Perhaps all is not lost after all!

  4. It certainly sounds like you are becoming extremely desperate for stories to discredit the pigeon fancier.
    An unnamed man (alarm bells are ringing) if he was unnamed, how does this prove he was a pigeon fancier.
    A man, cautioned. Hmm alarm bell time again.
    I’m sorry but either this story was written by a complete moron or it is a complete fabrication.
    Maybe it could have been a male, not a man, lets say perhaps under the age of sixteen, maybe this would sound a little bit more credible.
    The proper story, not your version, states
    Three hawks were found dead in total and after examination it was confirmed that both birds had in fact been shot.
    The case for the pigeon fanciers defence rests…

  5. ‘Saveourpigeons’ – read the newspaper article and the last query from RPS again – preferably slowly so you can digest what they actually say. The case was investigated by both the police and RSPB, the man admitted the crime when charged, was evidently identified as a pigeon fancier during the investigation, elicited a comment from a named police inspector and the case was reported in a reputable newspaper. – or are you implying all this is fictitious and anti-bird of prey pigeon fanciers are a myth? If so, I too rest my case re ‘sane’ pigeon fanciers like Chris Roberts.

    Re. RPS’s last question, perhaps you could perhaps provide the answer to enlighten us as to the reason he was let off so lightly?

    Finally, on a somewhat caustic note, if you really are the ‘defence for the pigeon fanciers’ I think they are in serious trouble!,

  6. You are quite right, the pigeon fanciers are in real trouble, they are in trouble because of the ignorance from people like yourself. I cannot speak for Judicial system of this country, but considering that you may have all the answers, perhaps you would care to enlighten me.
    Perhaps you are as brainwashed as all the rest, I do not condone the killing of any bird, but sadly from time to time this does happen from a select few.
    Why should it be classed as wrong for us pigeon fanciers to voice our opinions, when our birds are relentlessly attacked and mutilated by these wild birds on a daily basis.
    Clearly we have as much right to express an opinion, as anyone else.
    After all we do seem to be the clear victims here.
    Call me thick or stupid but in the article reads three birds were found, both were shot.
    so was there in fact two birds or three.
    The mind boggles.

  7. Reputable Newspaper?? was it one thats been involved in phone tapping ? or miss information? like Iraq has WMD ? dont always beleive whats written in the papers, they said we had a chance of winning the world cup in South Africa (clearly wrong) Your right though SOME fanciers do stupid things not ALL, bit like all RSPB members arnt brainwashed by propaganda for the RSPB.

  8. saveourpigeons, Yes, pigeon fanciers should be given a voice but if they fail to accept the facts then they really offer little to their cause, especially if they, like you try and play the victim card – this guy was guilty. He pleaded guilty and was found guilty through our legal system.
    What point exactly are you trying to make?

  9. Bravo Mr Edwards, clap, clap. I wondered when you or one of your little group would crop up.
    Rightly so we are victims, and so you know it.
    You know what point I’m trying to make.

  10. ‘save our pigeons’ is quite right. He has as much right to express his opinion as anyone else, and of course this is no doubt precisely why RPS has allowed him space on this site to do so. However, speaking personally I would have more respect for him if he came out from behind his pseodonym and had the courage of his convictions (no pun intended!) to use his real name. It is interesting to note how often the anti-bird of prey fraternity use this ploy or hide away in the guise of ‘Songbird Survival. It is also SOP’s perogative to regard me as an ignorant brainwashed kinow-it-all, but I think I will be able to live with that. However, I would point out that his puerile attempt at mockery by querying the number of Sparrowhawks found shot in this case is incredible. Apparently he is unawre that the killing of even a single bird of prey is illegal in this country – and as both Robin Edwards and myself have tried to point out, the offender pleaded guilty! To answer SOP’s character analysis of myself, I have lived in West Cumbria (a major pigeon racing area) and studied the interaction of birds of prey and racing pigeons for 47 years, still have friends and former work colleagues who are pigeon racers who have been honest and open-minded enough to discuss this matter with me in a civilized manner for all of this time, have carried out surveys in my own town of Whitehaven for the national survey instigated by the Hawk & Owl Trust (the results of which were published) which showed that a large number (>50%) of feral pigeons in the town were still wearing racing rings, so were birds which had failed to make it home after a race (called by pigeon men ‘strags’ (stragglers), and have taken part on live television and radio debates between the opposing factions on several occasions. As part of this study I put the following question to my contacts – “When a member of the public rescues a worn-out or disorientated pigeon which has gone astray due to meeting inclement weather conditions during a race, and is eventually returned it to its owner (identifiable by its ring number via the ‘Pigeon Racing Association), what happens to it when you get it back”? Their answer? “We neck it. There is no point in feeding or breeding from a bird which is no good”! In the past I personally have telephoned owners of such birds and asked them what they would like me to do with them. Almost without exception the advice was to ‘neck it’. I no longer bother to ask! Nor do I see any mention by ‘SOP’s’ of the number of such worn out birds killed on roads by vehicles, nor the number killed by cats, dogs and foxes when they are to weak to flee.

    Sadly, one thing I have learned to my cost over these 47 years is that it is totally futile to try and get any sense out of dialoge with such people as ‘SOP’s’ and S. Armstrong. In fact I was only pursuaded to comment on the item initially because the post by Chris Roberts cheered me up no end and gave me hope for the future. So thank you Chris., But now I suggest we bring this pointless dialogue to a close after I have received a response to the following question: – “SOP’s’, I notice you trot out a very familiar ‘fact’ which is repeated ad infinitum by pigeon men when this subject crops up, i.e. …. our birds are relentlessly attacked and mutilated by these wild birds ON A DAILY BASIS. Are you willing to come out from your cover in order to invite me down to your loft to witness this happeng ON A DAIL;Y BASIS for myself? If this proves to be the case I am willing to admit I was wrong and will publish a report, plus giving you an apology on this site. However, if as I believe, this simply proves to be only the usual fatuous propaganda promulgated by your ilk, perhaps you will be man enough to do the same for me?

  11. Tony if you indeed did your homework, you would know exactly who I am. I do not need to hide behind some pseudo name. I am the very same person who comments on these threads on a regular basis, I am the very same person who wrote a guest blog on Mark Avery’s site. Did I hide behind a false name then, no I most certainly did not. I’m not hiding behind any cover. I would be more than willing to take round to many lofts and show you the evidence if this pleased you.
    For your information, myself like many fanciers now put telephone rings on our birds, the reason for this is if they were to go astray the finder would be able to contact us directly, so we could arrange collection of our birds as they are far to expensive to do as you say and neck them.
    I am extremely aware of the law and am not as ignorant or uneducated on such matters as you might think.I certainly know what schedule 1 protected species is
    A good little trick of twisting my words, attacks are happening on a daily basis not happening on a daily basis at any one loft but on many lofts on a daily basis.
    But I can show you just how widespread the actual problem is and this has nothing to do with any other animal or bird and is conclusive with any shadow of a doubt whatsoever as to the culprit.
    All the injuries and fatalities I talk about are from on and around pigeon lofts, they have nothing to do with cars cats or dogs. The dialogue we trot out as you put it is the truth.
    Nothing exaggerated, nothing over estimated.
    All the things that I do trot out are my own words based on fact.
    I would be more than willing to accommodate you.
    Gary Burgess.

  12. I have not seen this publication before today but I a sorry to have to read so much emotional rubbish. The fact is that Birds of Prey have been introduced in the area where I live and it has changed the balance of birds life dramatically. We no longer have the skylarks and grouse that were once common. The woodcock and lapwings has been reduced to very small numbers because they have fallen prey to the preditors. These days Goshawks attack domestic livestock and Sparrowhawks are attacking racing pigeons in flight which is new. I keep and race pigeons which has made me very aware of what is happening in the air and I know that Birds of Prey are now are destroying the local bird life and are continually attacking the pigeons. As far as I am concerned the people who are responsible for releasing and maintaining these preditors should be made responsible for the damage they do to domestic livestock. And if they want to follow the idea that there should be a balance in Nature then they must remove the feral pigeons that props up the diet of these flesh eaters when they fail to catch wild prey. In answer to the point that there are ringed pigeons loose in a town centre somewhere, the owners can and should be identified and they can be repatriated. In some places this happens and there is a charge for the service.

  13. Birds of prey are introduced into areas they had already existed in before they were persecuted to near extinction. Also many are expanding naturaly into such areas.
    The decline in songs birds has very little to do with birds of prey and a lot to do with a decline in habitats. In towns many people deck or concrete over their gardens thereby depriving song birds of nesting and feeding sites. Also weed killers and pesticides are overused.
    Councils are too tidy, grass verges are cut too often and gardens and parks are planted with non native species which has a knock on affect on insect populations which a lot of song birds rely on.

    Despite living in a large city this is the list of songbirds I’ve seen over the last few months whilst walking to work. I see all these (or hear them) nearly everyday.

    Great Tit
    Longtailed Tit
    Chif Chaf
    Sparrow (Hedge and House)
    Mistle Thrush
    Song Thrush
    House Martin
    Pied Wagtail

    Also seen:

    Collared Dove
    Wood Pigeon
    Pergrines (nesting near the City centre)
    Canada Goose
    Great Crested Grebe
    Red Throated Diver
    Tufted Duck
    Mallard Duck

    The song birds nest in hedges and trees along busy roads here. The verges have not been cut for a while and the birds have been taking advantage of this. Lots of insects and grass and Dandelion seeds.
    If the habitats are there even if it’s just a verges or small green spaces then the song birds and other wildlife will have more of a chance.
    It’s about time that we started to make our cities and towns more wildlife friendly.

  14. Gary, thank you for ‘coming out’ as I requested (though I still don’t understand why you chose to write as SOP’s until now) and for your invitation to visit you for a tour of lofts to ‘see the evidence’. However, having now read your guest blog on Mark Avery’s site, plus all the usual ‘tit for tat’ responses to this, I realise this would be a complete waste of precious time and petrol. This ‘grand tour’ would simply end up being a round of slanging matches between myself and disgruntled pigeon fanciers trotting out the same old anecdotal ‘evidence’, so I’m afraid I will have to turn down your invitation on this occasion, though I do appreciate your offer. I’m also sorry if I misinterpreted your words, but they were your words, so having clarified what you actually meant, perhaps you could tell us how many proven kills of your own birds you have personally witnessed at first hand since the turn of this year. Factual figures though please, and no guesses about ‘missing’ birds being kiilled by birds of prey. Nobody is doubting that Sparrowhawks and Peregrines regularly take racing pigeons as prey (I myself witnessed this at first hand while carrying out 24-hour wardening watches at Peregrine eyries in the 1970’s to protect them from destruction by the local pigeon men), and nobody doubts that this is very frustrating for you all, especially when it involves a prize bird which cost you a lot of money. Though in my own experience,pigeon breeders would no more let out a bird worth the money you mention than put out the family silver on a table in their garden! They would keep it for breeding purposes only. What we contest is your right to demand a cull of a wild predatory bird species which only sees your provision of vast numbers of its main prey as ‘meals on wheels’. Remember, the birds of prey are the true rightful residents of your skies and are only behaving naturally, so if you choose to put out their prey.in the full knowledge that they are around, that is your conscious decision. It is no different from those of us who keep free-range hens which suffer losses from Foxes, or put out food for garden birds and mutter a curse when a Sparrowhak takes one of our favourite Robins, Blackbird, Thrush or Woodpecker.- and you can include me in that! However, the difference is, we accept that this will happen from time to time, and although we might not like it, we accept it as natural behaviour. Like it or lump it, predators predate and have an important role to fill in the natural order. But they have every right to do so. And yes, I know, all this is a waste of time, so we will just have to agree to disagree – so I suggest we just stay off this blog for a while and simply mutter into our morning coffee mugs! And sorry Owen Elliott, your contribution is not worthy of a reply! I’m off for that coffee!

  15. No surprise there then Tony, I just knew that you would not take me up on my offer.
    Why is this, are you scared of what you might discover.
    Personally I have only this years young pigeons here at home, which belong to my children.
    I have two which over the last two weeks have been attacked by sparrowhawks. One has a wound three punctures in it’s breast where it was grabbed by the sparrowhawk, I also have another which has injuries to the back of it’s head and neck.
    Bearing in mind these birds have only just recently been going out.
    As a result of the two witnessed attacks I have had, I am six pigeons adrift that just flew off in sheer panic, never to be seen again. I can’t really say if any of these were took by the sparrowhawk as I never witnessed it and this would only be speculation.
    On the allotment in Preston, this year we have lost six birds in flight to the Peregrine falcons of St Walburges church. These have been took whilst in flight. I have some pictures of these. We have also had three severely damaged, which later died as a result of their injuries.
    The last attack which happened last Tuesday, where two peregrines came, one stayed high above the loft, the other flew across top of the loft, scattering all the youngbirds in panic into the air. Later that evening we discovered that there was indeed 24 young pigeons missing. All have rings on their legs with a telephone number on. The following day we had birds reported in Knutsford, Warrington, Bolton, Garstang, Lancaster. We have since retrieved these birds.
    One has since returned, leaving 19 astray.
    You miss understand me when I say that my birds are too expensive to say to people ‘Neck It’ as you say.
    What I am saying is if I spend £5000 on a cock bird and £1500 on his hen. The offspring which I breed from these pigeons are still an expensive bird and this is the reason I would retrieve the bird.
    I am not a raptor hater, but I do believe that measures should be taken to control these birds in areas where they have become overpopulated.
    I am not saying that every pigeon fancier is the land should be licensed to shoot these neither.
    But what I am saying is some authority should be appointed to investigate these claims and the appropriate action taken when deemed necessary.
    Why not trap the said birds and offer them to falconers as this too would also serve a purpose and cut down on crime of birds being taken from the wild.
    I have files here, with statements of witnessed attacks this year and many do have photographic evidence to support them.
    This problem is much bigger than anyone will admit and you only have to see the devastation caused to understand the problem

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